Our hedgehog blog has migrated to our new website – check out our latest hog updates here.
After two years of support from Heritage Lottery Fund, British Hedgehog Preservation Society & local benefactors, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust Ipswich Hedgehog Project has worked with over 6000 people to raise awareness for hedgehogs through talks, walks, school assemblies, park events and workshops. Over 400 people have helped with our footprint & camera surveys across the town and we’ve had an amazing 1045 hours contributed from dedicated volunteers. We’ve walked 459km on night transects, collectively spent 159 hours searching for hedgehogs by torchlight, have had around 3000 new hedgehog sightings, with 700 new hedgehog sightings for Ipswich and over 780 gardens recorded as accessible for hedgehogs.
To celebrate all that Ipswich has achieved so far, we invited the town to a hedgehog lantern parade and were amazed by the turn out and the brilliant hedgehog lanterns created. Around 150 town residents weaved their way from Holywells park to La Tour Cycle Café, lanterns twinkling in twilight with hedgehog chatter abound!
We’ve built an amazing momentum for hedgehog conservation here in Ipswich – there have been some fantastic actions taken by individuals, community groups, businesses and land managers. But we can’t stop now – there is still more that needs to be done to secure the future of our local hedgehog populations.
You can continue to log your hedgehog sightings and hedgehog-friendly gardens on our online map, you can borrow our footprint tunnels or cameras to survey your garden, you can organize a drilling day on your street to open up walled gardens with our help & kit (email Ali for more info), you can sign up to be a hedgehog champion or support our work by becoming a Suffolk Wildlife Trust member.
Keep following this blog for updates on our Ipswich hedgehog and urban wildlife activities!
Photos by John Ferguson
A brilliant afternoon was spent last week with two hedgehog champions, Sue and Ámon, drilling holes in walled gardens in the centre of Ipswich. Five new gardens were linked and lots of lovely chatter was had with neighbours keen to open habitat for their local hogs. Brilliant work by these two persuading neighbours and giving up their time & expertise to get covered in dust! Here’s Ámon with his core trophy as the first hole was created!
Hedgehogs can roam around 2km in a night, making connectivity of gardens critical for sustaining healthy populations. We now have two drills, one for walls and one for wooden fencing, and we hope this will be the first of many drilling days across Ipswich, inspired by Barnes Hedgehog Project. Get in touch if you have the time and skills to become a drilling volunteer, or if you have a group of neighbours in Ipswich that would like to become a Hedgehog Highway but don’t have the tools to do it! Email for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Team Hedgehog for our first drilling day (I would like to confirm that I cannot take any credit for using this drill!)
Calling all Ipswich allotment holders!
Can you help us better understand hedgehog use of allotments? Hedgehogs are a well-loved species, but one that is undergoing concerning declines. Urban green spaces are becoming increasingly important for hedgehogs, and allotments can provide a brilliant range of feeding and nesting habitat.
With the bulk of a hedgehogs diet being invertebrates such as caterpillars, beetles and slugs, hedgehogs are very much a gardener’s friend. Help Suffolk Wildlife Trust better understand how hedgehogs are using allotments across Ipswich by taking 5 minutes to fill in our online survey before Tuesday 31st July, here:
You can find gardening tips for helping hedgehogs here: http://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/node/16934
and ideas for hedgehog-friendly alternatives to slug pellets, here: https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/ideas-for-safe-slug-control/
Another week of #30dayswild and lots of lovely random acts of wildness. Remember you can still sign up and get lots of tips and ideas through the Wildlife Trust’s electronic packs, here.
Day 15 – myself and Wild Learning Officer Lucy were running our first ‘Wet your Whistle with Wildlife’ event in Christchurch park and we saw lots of awesome nocturnal species. First up we checked our footprint tunnels for signs of hedgehogs and other small critters. Unfortunately no hogs, but we did find lots of rodent prints before pipistrelle bats started whizzing up and around our heads, a large male stag beetle zoomed up and above the trees and we watched a lovely fox using our night vision monocular! You can book onto our next Wet your Whistle with Wildlife event, here.
Day 16 – June has certainly been a month for night walks and for day 16 myself, Greenways and Urban Buzz were running a night safari in Chantry Park. Off we went in search of Daubenton bats around the lake , wandered around the meadow watching pipistrelles, more stag beetles, a beautiful elephant hawk moth and some rabbits! We ended the evening chatting around the moth trap, eating biscuits and sipping on hot drinks, as we identified the moths and other flying insects fluttering around us. Perfect!
Day 17 – a stroll along the river Deben, some tree clambering and the discovery of lots of shore crabs!
Day 18 – the hunt for Ipswich glow worms continued and tonight, we were successful! Twelve beautiful glow worms were found, declaring their presence with their very bright LED like lights shining through the grass and bracken. Whilst called worms, glow worms are of course actually beetles and it is the female glow worms that are lit up here, trying to attract the flying males for mating. They will often glow for the first few hours of darkness, but will stop glowing upon mating. I submitted our sightings to the UK glow worm survey, here. They could well be in more places than we realise. Keen an eye out for them on your night time wanderings, and do submit your sightings!
Day 19- A little while ago I google earthed my neighborhood to look at how my street fitted into the wider landscape and where my local hedgehog population might be foraging and nesting. I wandered to one of my nearest patches this evening and checked out some great foraging and nesting habitat. I’ll be surveying this patch soon to see if I can record signs of hedgehogs! Why not have a look at your street and work out how it could be made better linked into your local green spaces?
Day 20 – A lovely kayak under a rookery, chasing a kingfisher and paddling under a beautiful evening sky!
Day 21 – a new perceptive for my office commute. It’s amazing what you notice when you cycle a route you usually drive.
Day 22 – an evening stroll along quiet lanes along the edge of Ipswich in search of Little Owls, with success! Two owls and an owlet! In and out of a big old oak they flew, perching on fence posts and making contact calls between them. Breeding bird survey data suggests these owl numbers are declining – the Little Owl Project aims to better understand the ecology of the Little Owl, and help better conserve this beautiful species! Please do submit any Little Owl sightings you have to help better understand their distribution and target future action. If you look very closely you might be able to spot one of the owls poking its head out of the oak, below!
Day 23 – Catching up with some London friends in Regent’s Park! I’ve been reading about this park recently as it is home to the last remaining breeding population of hedgehogs in a London centre park. There is a brilliant project monitoring the population, hedgehog spatial use of the park, the threats they face, habitat use and working with the parks land managers to help limit threats and improve habitat for the population. It is a collaboration between The Royal Parks, The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Garden Wildlife Health Project (GWH), the Central Royal Parks Wildlife Group, scientists Dr Nigel Reeve, Professor John Gurnell and LOTS of volunteers; you can read about the project, here.
Now well into week 3 of the Wildlife Trust’s #30dayswild campaign, I thought I would share some of my daily acts of wildness for week 2 with you. You can read all about week 1, here. Have you been getting involved? It’s never too late to join in! The campaign aims to get everyone outside enjoying nature every day of June (and beyond). We’re out of paper packs, but you can still get electronic packs full of tips and ideas, here.
The evening of day 8 was spent on a mission: to find glow worms. Myself, Wild Learning Officer Lucy and our friend Jess headed to Pipers Vale, a Local Nature Reserve and County Wildlife Site on the edge of Ipswich. We were excited to be greeted by stag beetles zooming around, their huge antler mandibles stretched out in front of them and their wings vibrating full pelt. Bats dove up and around our heads as we lay on the grass watching them, before heading to Landseer park to see if we could find any glow worms there (no such luck this time!) Glow worms are in fact beetles but are mysterious creatures – help better understand them by adding your sightings to the UK Glow worm survey website, here. Stag beetles are also magnificent beetles and are undergoing concerning declines. Tips to help them can be found here and sightings can be logged on the People’s Trust for Endangered Species survey here.
Day 9 – I headed to one of my favourite spots in Ipswich for a few hours and climbed a VERY impressive oak tree. I took some time to inspect the bark and see what I could find, and came across an especially old gnarled knot that was packed full of woodlice lurking in the crevices. Every now and then a number of them would scuttle out to the other side of the knot and it would seem like the whole tree was alive with small crawling critters! It’s amazing what you can find once you start looking, and oaks are an excellent example of this. Oaks can support hundreds of species; insects, mosses, liverworts, fungi, lichen, birds, mammals. Why not find your nearest oak and see how many species you can find?
Day 10 – an evening stroll along the river resulted in meeting this chap, a lovely dock bug, as well as bees, butterflies and a lady bird larvae clambering across the bench I was sat on. The river path was buzzing with life. You can bring that buzz to your garden with our tips for encouraging invertebrates here and here.
Day 11 – a day in the office called for a lunch time break sat amongst the grass to observe the birds and bees.We were lucky enough to spot a house sparrow entering its nest in the office roof with a caterpillar, likely feeding its young!
Day 12 – An early morning to check my garden moth trap! This is the first night it’s been on for the year so I was pleased to find several species, including one that I’ve never seen before, the Bird’s Wing. This here is a garden carpet, the first one I found as I opened the trap! We have over 2500 species of moth in Britain, compared to less than 70 butterfly species. Our amazing moths are undergoing declines, which is a huge concern because they are an essential pollinator and prey item for many other species. Their caterpillars are crucial for breeding birds and a key part of the hedgehogs diet. Why not have a go at seeing how many moth species you can find in your garden? Light or sugar lures can be really easy and fun to make. Tips can be found on our website, here.
Day 13 – the early hours of the morning were spent on a torchlight survey in the centre of Ipswich. It was a beautifully clear night and the sky was full of stars. We were excited to have 2 sightings of hedgehogs, and 4 sightings of fox, including cubs! One of the hedgehogs was munching on a big fat slug so we were sure to quickly note it’s location on our map and leave it to its dinner. Remember to let us know about your hedgehog sightings on our online map, here.
Day 14 – Whilst surveying in the early hours our hedgehog volunteers came across a tawny owl chick perched in a tree. It was a massive ball of fluff with very large eyes – a great end to our second night of torchlight surveying! Can you spot it?
Wow, I can’t believe we’re already one week into the Wildlife Trust’s 30 days wild campaign! This is one of my favourite campaigns because it is so easy for everyone and anyone to get involved. It’s not too late if you haven’t signed up already – head to our website here, for more information. It started a few years ago and is all about getting everyone reconnecting with nature, by having one random act of wildness each day, every day, for the 30 days of June. These can be small acts like taking a walk at lunch to listen to the birds, identifying a new flower species in your garden, making a hedgehog hole in your fence or admiring gnarled bark whilst climbing a tree. Everyone has busy lives – work, family, friends. But the idea behind this campaign is to show how easy it is to fit a little nature time into any busy schedule – to make wildness, and the inclination to protect it, part of your every day life!
Day 1 – Myself and Ipswich Wild Learning Officer Lucy kick started our 30 days wild by inviting families to join us on a night safari around Holywells Park. Within minutes of starting the walk, a lesser stag beetle had flown into the hands of one of our volunteers, and the children were eagerly holding out their hands to let their first ever beetle scramble across them. We then admired foraging pipistrelle bats, a large female toad burying down in the leaves, hundreds of tadpoles squiggling around in the water, a smooth newt and even a water scorpion. We paused on route to have a go at using our night vision monocular and ended the evening by watching toads and a jumping frog in the walled garden. Unfortunately no hedgehogs were spotted, but we had a lovely wildlife filled evening! We have several more night safaris and night walks this summer, check out our What’s On for more but remember, you can have you very own night safari, any night, in your own garden! Why not head out after dark and see what you can find?
Day 2 – a lovely time spent lazing under a big old oak tree in Christchurch park. This wasn’t just any old oak, this was home to a chirping nest full of Great spotted woodpeckers. We lay quietly in the dappled sun listening to the chicks and getting excited when the parent flew back to the hole in the tree. Our waiting was rewarded and we witnessed the chicks heads popping out for their dinner! Christchurch park has so many awesome ancient trees – why not take a wander to see and listen to what species you can find?
Day 3 – enjoying the sun, wildflowers and insects in a beautifully buzzing meadow whilst in Cambridge for the day. A lovely way to spend some time in the sun! Wildflower meadows are awesome habitat for so many species – why not visit one yourself, or even bring one to your own garden? Tips for scattering seed bombs in your garden can be found here. Wildflower patches (even small ones) are excellent feeding habitat for hedgehogs.
Day 4 – I decided to take a bag on my run to collect some of the plastic rubbish littering the banks of the River Orwell. You’ll be surprised (or not surprised) on how much stuff you can find once you start looking. My bag was very quickly filled with straws, plastic cups and other single-use plastic items. One of my challenges for this year was to drastically cut down on the amount of single-use plastic I use in my every day life. Plastic is destroying our oceans and littering the terrestrial environment (plastic bottle rings often trap poor hedgehogs!). There are some really easy steps anyone can take to help, here and some less easy steps, here.
Before continuing on my run I decided to peer under some rocks to see what I could find – some lovely shore crabs!
Day 5 – Whilst exploring the Suffolk Coast Path for a few days I took a moment to rest, enjoy the blue hues along the River Orwell and watch a tern dive for its dinner. The stillness of the water was then interrupted by what at first I thought was some floating kelp – then to realise it was in fact a bobbing seal coming to say hello!
Day 6 – I watched the sun set over some reed beds, to the sound of a nearby cuckoo. Once the sun had dropped the sky was dark and clear, full of zillions of teeny tiny stars. Have you spent a night under the stars? It can be as easy as setting up camp in your own garden!
Day 7 – After returning home from my trip I was excited to check the trail camera in the garden to see if we’d had any new visitors. We had! A lovely fox – the first for our garden. Trail cameras are a brilliant way of discovering what goes on in your garden after dark. Remember you can borrow our trail cameras in Ipswich to help you detect hedgehogs and other nocturnal critters. More information can be found here.
These are just some of my random acts of wildness for June so far – I’d love to hear yours too! Including nature in your every day life has so many benefits, probably even more for those of you that think life is too hectic to fit it in. Take a few minutes, sit amongst the grass, watch the clouds, eat your dinner outside or take 20 minutes to watch the sun set. I bet you’ll feel a whole lot better for it!
Don’t worry if you haven’t started yet – it’s never too late to go #30dayswild or even #365dayswild. If you’d like tips and advice you can register for a pack here.
The aim of our Spring night work was to determine how many hedgehogs were in the study area by a torchlight survey, mark-recapture method (See my previous post here about our night time antics!) Once hedgehogs had undergone health checks and had met certain criteria, six hedgehogs were tagged with a satellite/radio tracker. This tracker would record a satellite position at regular intervals, enabling information on their movements to be obtained. It was then our job to keep an eye on them, give them health checks and ultimately retrieve the logger so that the data could be downloaded and insights gleened! This data will be crucial for Nottingham Trent’s Random Encounter Model population estimate, and will provide useful insights into the spatial behaviour of hedgehogs. This field work is part of a wider project being run by Nottingham Trent University, supported by People’s Trust for Endangered Species and British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
The trackers only had a finite battery life so once they were attached to the hedgehog (all under license), the clock was ticking and the race was on! The tags emit a radio signal at certain hours of the day which enabled us to tune into the specific frequency of the tag and re-locate it, and the hedgehog it was attached to. To do this we needed a very large aerial, which you can imagine got some odd looks. This year the most popular comment was definitely whether we were checking for TV licenses! Relocating hedgehogs was easier said than done in an urban environment but we had a huge amount of fun doing it. It was fascinating seeing the different places the hedgehogs were nesting; underneath 12ft long corrugated roofing sheets, piles of leaves, in bushes and under sheds!
Sarah and Chloe tracking our tagged hedgehogs, come rain or shine!
My favourite of all the tagged hedgehogs was fondly named Adventure Hog. After quickly losing a signal for this adult male, we were excited to find that he liked the countryside and had left the outskirts of town to frequent a small farm. The next day the signal was again lost and we found ourselves weaving our way up and down the streets in the van, jumping out every now and then to see if we could get a signal. With no luck we started driving out of the study area in random directions, and finally picked up a very weak signal at around 11pm. Out we jumped and followed the signal into a creepy, orange back-lit church yard and towards a village on the outskirts of town. We were amazed to find Adventure Hog over 1km away from where he had been tagged. And he could really run! He zipped right across the road in front of us forcing some very quick manoeuvres on our part to give him a quick health check. All was well so off he went into the night. The next night we found him 1km away again, back in the study area scuttling his way between gardens.
It seemed appropriate that Adventure Hogs last parting gift to us was the shedding of his tag in the densest bush known to man kind. At one point I was lying horizontally, suspended by branches, wondering if I was going to ever see the light of day again. Thankfully I was being over dramatic and after a lot of sifting through branches, leaves and litter, we found the fallen tag and managed to crawl, weave and stumble our way out of the bush, leaves and twigs firmly tangled in our hair.
Chloe and I feeling very triumphant after emerging from the bush with adventure hogs tag
The hardest of the tags to retrieve, and the last one left to carefully remove from a hedgehog, was ‘shed hog’. Upon the use of an endoscope, we realised that either the tag had fallen in a nest or the hedgehog was still using a very lovely nest in the unreachable corner of a shed foundation. This could mean only one thing: a garden stake out. The garden owners were lovely and very understanding, but did find it very amusing that they had two women lying faces to the ground, staring at a gap under their shed as darkness fell. After around half an hour after sunset, a rummaging from the nest was a reassuring sound – I had been concerned that the tag might have fallen off the hedgehog – but out he came, cautiously sticking his nose out of the two exit points we had covered, only to get scared by a noise made out on the street, and scuttling back to his nest. We didn’t have to wait long until he came out again, and this time he came out far enough for us to give him a health check and remove the tag. Mission accomplished!
Last week we gathered at the Activ Lives CRESS pavilion as part of Hedgehog Awareness Week. After a talk highlighting 7 threats, 7 actions & 7 top video clips of hogs, we ventured out into the community garden and allotments in search of hedgehogs. We split into two smaller groups and it didn’t take long for our group to spot our first hedgehog snuffling along the edge of a plot.
We didn’t have to wait long for our next wildlife sighting as the bright torch beam caught a glimpse of a fox down an allotment trail, followed soon after by two little fox cubs dashing back into their den.
Next up we had a large common cockchafer (which I have been informed is known as a Billy Witch in these parts!) zooming towards us at full speed. It decided to hitch a ride on my coat for the rest of the night so we could admire it’s beautiful large lashes. These ‘lashes’ are used to detect pheromones so that males can find females even at night – their adult life is brief so they need to find their mates quickly!
The second group then spotted another hedgehog – or the first hedgehog annoyed at being startled by the torch twice – scuttling across the allotment path towards a big compost heap.
We were treated to one last glimpse of a young fox as we approached the pavilion for the end of the night, lying close to the ground just 10m away from the entrance. His pointy ears silhouetted against the fence line until he realised we were watching, and he quickly dashed away towards the houses.
Thanks to everyone that came along and don’t worry if you couldn’t make it this time. We’ve got another torchlight tour at Bourne Park in August, book here.
During Hedgehog Awareness week we were celebrating the amazing people that are helping raise awareness for hedgehogs, promote action, and better understand hedgehogs across Ipswich!
These are just some of the individuals and groups doing brilliant stuff for hedgehogs. Included here are also lots of links for you to find out more about getting involved, whether it is yourself as an individual, a family, a school, community group or a business, everyone can do their bit to help hedgehogs.
Here are Emma and Daisy, two of our Hedgehog Champions working to enthuse their neighbours and peers to have hedgehog-friendly gardens. Emma is a trustee and volunteer for Poppy’s Crêche hedgehog rescue, shares stories and videos of hedgehogs across social media regularly and is spreading the word for hedgehog-friendly gardening to her neighbours, friends and colleagues. Daisy is a wildlife ambassador at Sidegate Primary School, runs hedgehog stalls and has made some brilliant hedgehog creations to help raise awareness and funds, including key rings, window stickers and a leaflet that was distributed to all houses within her school catchment as part of a school competition. Daisy recently made this awesome video to help people make hedgehog feeding stations in their gardens.
Hedgehog Champions aim to make their whole street hedgehog friendly, with linked gardens and nesting and feeding habitat through the Hedgehog Street approach. There are lots of ways to promote action and champion hedgehogs on your street, from chatting to neighbours, distributing our leaflets, writing letters, setting up community facebook pages, running a neighbourhood hedgehog survey or organising street events! We are here to help and have champion packs to get you started. For more information and to register to become a champion in Ipswich, head to our website here.
Ipswich would definitely not be as hedgehog friendly without the very generous help of our interns and volunteers. From helping us run community events, hedgehog surveys, visit gardens or run research projects, our dedicated hedgehog volunteers have contributed over 600 hours of their time to the project in the past year and a half. Amazing! One of our hedgehog interns Chloe (left photo) is pictured below in our study area after a day of installing cameras in gardens. Steph (right photo) is one of our night torchlight volunteers and has walked many miles in the dark in search of hedgehogs. On the night this photo was taken we found two lovely hedgehogs, both in good health! If you would like to volunteer with our hedgehog project then please head to our website here, to find out more.
Community groups across Ipswich have been very keen to learn more about hedgehogs and how to help them. “We love hedgehogs!” shouts the SWT Ipswich Local Group! It is through the action of whole communities creating Hedgehog Highways and garden habitat that we will be able to improve large areas for hedgehog populations.
Ipswich is lucky to have lots of organisations working towards similar goals for wildlife (See Wild Ipswich). Pictured below are Greenways & Ipswich Wildlife Group next to some of their hedgehog homes made as part of their wildlife homes events across town. Participants help make their own home, and each hedgehog house goes home with a fact sheet to help spread the word!
Schools across town have been learning about hedgehogs and how to help them in their school grounds and in their own gardens, and some have been surveying their school grounds for signs of hedgehog. Ipswich School have been ensuring their grounds are hedgehog friendly with the creation of lots of natural and home-made hedgehog nest sites, including this very stylish hedgehog house at The Lodge Day Nursery.
Ipswich Borough Council
Ipswich Borough Council have taken the pledge to check before they strim – with their machinery now displaying warning stickers from British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Park team members have recently attended a hedgehog ecology workshop to think about how their green spaces are managed for wildlife and to discuss what else could be done!
Ipswich Football Club
Ipswich Town football club are helping spread awareness with machinery stickers too, and are promoting this to all of their community supporters via their social media accounts. Hopefully this will help people to remember to check for hedgehogs before cutting those areas of long grass that are perfect for nesting. You can request hedgehog machinery stickers from British Hedgehog Preservation Society, here.
Here are Paula, Anne and Lis photographed at Suffolk Prickles Hedgehog Rescue hogspital! Hedgehog rescuers work tirelessly to help sick and injured hogs and these three lovely ladies are doing an amazing job. If you’d like to donate, or find out more about Suffolk Prickles or other local rescues like Poppys creche, click the links to head to their websites.
These are just some of the groups and individuals that are helping hedgehogs across Ipswich, and what a great job they are dong. Keep up the good work folks!